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… consider the interests of others …

Philippians 2:4

 

This morning I heard a commentator talk about how America is doomed to deteriorate from the stalemate in Washington DC, because we “love politics.”

 

He would have been more accurate if he had said, “Our nation is in decline because Americans have learned to think only of themselves.”

 

Community rights and the rights of others have become frivolous concepts in America’s judicial system and emphasis on political correctness.  It’s all about individual rights … my rights!

 

The current American mantra is, 

“I have my rights and they trump yours!  You only have your rights if they do not limit mine!”

 

Our political system simply accentuates this selfishness.

 

Anyone with a successful marriage knows that their marriage will fail if both husband and wife do not consider the interests and needs of their spouse.  

 

This is one reason many Christians have failed marriages.  We have failed to consider the interests and needs of our spouse.

 

The Westminster Confession of Faith writes: 

“Marriage is designed for the mutual help of husband and wife.”  

 

This affirmation is built upon God’s declaration in Genesis 2:18:

“It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit just for for him.”

 

If your marriage is on shaky ground, Paul’s counsel in Philippians 2:4 is one of the great secrets for having a great marriage. 

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Everywhere love turns, it finds burdens to carry. (1)

I use to have a friend who I loved, as friends love each other, but I dropped the friendship because he became too difficult to love.  Carrying his burdens became more than I could bear.

We have all had this experience, whether with a friend, a spouse, a parent, a child, or a sibling.  It became too much of a burden to love them, so we dropped them.  While we did so with regret, we did so convinced that we had to.

Love brings burdens.  

We all sin and fall short of God’s glory.  None of us are perfect.  

When my wife said, “I do” at our wedding nearly 32 years ago, she knew I was incomplete and imperfect.  Together we agreed to share each other’s burdens in the exchange of these vows:

I will you love you, comfort you, cherish, honor and keep you in plenty and in want, in joy and in sorrow, in sickness and health, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in whatever our life may bring, as long as we both shall live.

Yes, love brings burdens.  Yet, love also finds ways to carry those burdens either through a season of difficulty or until the burden has been relieved.  

This is where most love fails.  There is a weight limit to the load we are willing to carry.  When we reach the limits of the weight we can or are willing to carry, we cry out, “Loving you is killing me!”

I have wept with others who stand at this crossroads.  I understand the heaviness of the load and the pain and suffering it brings.  

Love is a heavy load.  

Love is a rose set in a bed of thorns, in this setting love is a many-splendored thing. (2)

Jesus said it best, 

“There is no greater love, than to lay down your life for your friends!” (3)

+ + +

  1. Luther, Martin; Galvin, James C. (2009-05-19). Faith Alone: A Daily Devotional (p. 171). Zondervan. Kindle Edition. 
  2. This phrase is from the 1955 movie, Love Is a Many-Splendored Thing, which is based on Han Suyin’s 1952 autobiographical novel A Many-Splendored Thing.
  3. John 15:13.

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For All the Saints

Psalm 116:15 and Revelation 14:12-13

Psalm 116:15

Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his saints.

Revelation 14:12-13

Here is a call for the endurance of the saints, those who keep the commandments of God and their faith in Jesus.

I heard a voice from heaven saying, “Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord. They are blessed indeed, that they may rest from their labors, for their deeds follow them!”

I.  Memorial Day and Death

A.  Memorial Day

Decoration Day honoring soldiers who died in was

B.  My First Experiences with Death

3rd Grade – Cindy Clayton’s Dad

6th Grade – Ellen and then Popoo

C.  A Ministry Constantly in the Presence of Death

Hospice, Grandmother, Thorhauer

D.  Difficult Ones

Close Friends … Willem and Kish

Last Week – Bob McMichael

E. Jen and Julie

II.  Death is not a Foreign Language

A.  Ministry has made me comfortable with death and dying

Yet neither easy or seeking

B.  As a Pastor People Turn to Me for Comfort

An expectation for words

Despite extensive post-funeral praise

You said the right thing

C.  I stumble and struggle for words

Can be spoken so easily, so casually, so confidently

But can be as empty as the breeze

Halfway through every funeral

I wish someone else was speaking

D.  My comfort is not from practice or experience

I still weep and am at a lose for words to explain

E.  I read a lot of scripture

At least 8 at every service

Scripture expresses well what we feel and hope but cannot express.

III.  Today’s Scriptures are 2 which I Never Use

A.  Yet they express truth in which I find comfort and hope

B.  Psalm 116:15

Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his saints.

C.  Expresses God’s emotion at death

Death is precious to God

Must mean He does not grieve as we do

For God, death is a gain, not a loss

D.  Are all death’s a gain for God

This passage does not say that

  A gain when only a saint dies

E.  Who is a saint in God’s sight?

Not the over achieving goodie-two-shoe believer

We are all sinners, depraved, who fall short of God’s standards

None of us can qualify as self-made saints

(even though we may be self-righteous about our standing with God)

F.  The Hebrew Word for saint is hasid

A meaningless, foreign word for many

Hasid’s etymology is interesting

It’s guttural root, without Hebraic pointing is HSD

The famous HSD word in Hebrew is hesed

Hesed is God’s everlasting steadfast love and mercy

==> Translators to define hasid as

Those who have received God’s everlasting steadfast love and mercy

G.  The saints God finds precious at death

Are those who have received His mercy/grace

God does not waste His love for us in our death

IV.  The 2nd Scripture – Revelation 14:13

A.  “Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord. 

They are blessed indeed, that they may rest from their labors!”

B.  Familiar words from the hymn For All the Saints

For all the saints, who from their labors rest.

C.  Life is hard, difficult, a struggle, filled with suffering

A reality balanced with blessings and joys, and meaning

But let’s face it, life is hard

D.  At death, for the saint, the difficult labors of this life are done

Just as we long for weekly rest – TGIF

Just as we long for retirement at some point

At death we enter into eternal rest from the labors of this life

E.  Those who are left behind, grieve their loss

Yet, death, for the saint is rest

F.  We all have watched loved ones struggle in pain

Physical and emotional pain is no more at death

V.  Funerals are Approached with Dread

A.  This explains our propensity to ask for a

Memorial Service or Celebration of Life Service

B.  These services are meant to put a happy spin on grief

I understand that, but also recognize grieving is critical

C.  This leads to always reading Revelation 21:1-7 at Services

Particular imagery in the passage

Highlighted last week at Bob McMichael’s Service

D.  Nancy’s onset of dementia => confusion about what was happening

Just before the service, she told her daughter

It’s Susann’s Wedding …

E.  Earlier I had sent the bulletin to the local clergy as Wedding Bulletin

Decided to focus on the wedding motif

F.  The funeral for the saint is a marriage in heaven

God comes, God unites, God holds,

God commits and covenants Himself to the saints who have died

VI.  As We Celebrate Memorial Day

A.  We can rejoice

B.  For the saints who gave their life in battle

Have been wed to God in heaven

C.  Just as we decorate graves in honoring remembrance

Our Lord decorates His heavenly kingdom

Including adorning Himself for the Wedding ceremony and Feast  as He weds Himself to

Saints who are precious in His sight and who have died

D.  They leave us to go to Him

Death is a marriage to celebrate as much as a loss to grieve.

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Your Best Love, 5

Song of Songs 1 and 2

(selected verses)

Scripture Reading

Solomon’s Song of Songs.

Let him kiss me for his love is more delightful than wine.

Pleasing is the fragrance of your perfumes;

your name is like perfume poured out.

No wonder the maidens love you!

Take me away with you—let us hurry!

I rejoice and delight in you;

I will praise your love more than wine.

I liken you, my darling, to a mare harnessed to one of the chariots of Pharaoh.

Your cheeks are beautiful with earrings, your neck with strings of jewels.

My beloved is a bouquet of wildflowers

picked just for me from the gardens of God

How beautiful you are, my darling!

Oh, how beautiful! Your eyes are doves.

How handsome you are, my lover!

Oh, how charming you are!

My lover spoke and said to me,

“Arise, my darling, my beautiful one, and come with me.

See! The winter is past; the rains are over and gone.

Flowers appear on the earth;

the season of singing has come,

the cooing of doves is heard in our land.

The fig tree forms its early fruit;

the blossoming vines spread their fragrance.

Arise, come, my darling;

my beautiful one, come with me.”

Preaching Notes

I.  Quick Review of Sermon Series

A. 1st 2 Weeks – The Attitude of Marriage

B.  3rd Week – The Five Tasks of Marriage

C.  Last Week and This Week – The Emotion of Marriage

II.  The Song of Solomon

A.  Read Chapter 4:1-5 (stop at 3rd word)

B.  Did not know stuff like this was in the Bible

C.  Background on Song of Songs (Solomon)

Not God focused

Rather reality of God’s plan and/or creation

D.  Romance and physical intimacy as critical emotional aspect of marriage

Part of God’sPlan

Teachings in today’s sermon – focus of Song of Songs

E.  Last week Love as 1st or 2 primary emotions of marriage

Love is not the anchor or foundation of marriage

Rather it is the root of all life in marriage.

F.  Romance and physical intimacy is 2nd primary emotion of marriage

Romance and physical intimacy – a unified emotion

With 2 variations in manifestation

Romance – the dance – the love song

Physical intimacy – the unity, the two becoming one flesh

III.  “Romance and physical intimacy is the flower of marriage”

A. No one admires or smells leaves and stem of a flower

B.  The flower/blossom is source of fragrance and beauty of plant

C.  The blossom draws the birds and the bees

D.  Without the blossom, a flower is no more than a weed

The weed may endure, because of the root of love

But will do so without beauty or value

E.  These same trues hold for a marriage

Without romance and physical intimacy

A marriage becomes bittersweet, cold, and lonely

IV.  Both Husband and Wife need Romance and Physical Intimacy 

A.  Romance and physical intimacy – fulfills 3 critical need in relationship

For men  is key source of admiration

For women is key source of adoration

For both a critical source of affirmation

B.  One emotion, emotive reality

Cannot have one without the other

Truth is:

Without romance, women are not drawn to physical intimacy

Without physical intimacy men are not drawn to romance”

Reality is:

Without both, each one dies and so does the marriage

C. How Much is Needed

A Grandmother’s advice to her Granddaughter

Relationship Studies

My counsel – both needed in some degree/form everyday

D.  When romance and physical intimacy is missing

Two key realities replace them

Seeking to replace

Bittersweetness with sweetness

Cold with warmth

Loneliness with companionship

E.  1st Replacement is fighting

The 3rd source of intimacy in relationships

F.  2nd Replacement is a replacement relationship

Work or hobby

Addiction or obsessive/destructive behavior

An affair or inappropriate relationship

G.  Both of these replacements will, in time,

Destroy the blossom and kill the root

V. Guidelines for Romance and physical intimacy in marriage

A.  Romance communicates your desire for your spouse

Simple or elaborate, yet personal and genuine expression

B.  Physical intimacy is communicates your unique unity with your spouse

Meaningful touching, coming together

C.  Joe Hackney flowers for Bess

Once a week

Variations with simple note

After stroke

Significant source of encouragement for Bess’ week

Alway in eyesight, fresh in memory

After death

Provided for continuance in his will

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Your Best Love, 4

1 Corinthians 13

Preaching notes

I.  Quick Review

A.  1st 2 Weeks – The Spirit of Marriage – Ephesians 5 and Philippians 2

Relate to spouse/love as

Christ to you – die, serve, to present us without blemish

You to Christ – submit, serve, think of them, one mind, Christ’s mind

B.  5 Tasks of Marriage – Genesis 2

    1. Help Mate
    2. Soul Mate – emotional and spiritually
    3. Team Mate
    4. Mating Mate
    5. Life Mate

Not Lifetime Achievement

Daily Tasks

        • Help Mate – always find at least one thing to do for spouse => Thank You
        • Soul Mate – emotional and spiritually – requires time 20 minutes minimum
        • Team Mate – support and encouragement
        • Mating Mate – 1 significant physical touch every day
        • Life Mate – affirmed and confirmed

Accomplishing these tasks

Not dutifully

With affection and love

=> last two sermons

C.  This Week and Next – The Emotion of Marriage

II.  Love – The Bonding Agent of Marriage

A.  Love defined

Love is the sovereign preference of one person for another – Oswald Chambers

Love is a naturally spontaneous rather than a reactive emotion

God loved us while we were still sinners

God loved us before we loved Him

Love must be cultivated and nourished by discipline

B.  1 Corinthians 13

Setting for this chapter

The Corinthians did not love each other, they loved themselves

=> fighting amongst themselves

C.  Vs 1-3 – Without love I am nothing

Love is the purpose for all you

Completion of 5 tasks or anything else in relationship

Not to prove or to boast,

but to express heart’s affection

D. Vs 4-7 – Paul lists specific characteristics, but not an exhaustive list

These were the characteristics lacking in 1st Church of Corinth

    1. Is patient and kind; 
    2. Does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude;
    3. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; 
    4. Does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth;
    5. Bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things;

This is Tough Love

Does not easily break

Bends under winds and in stress

Willing to do hard things

Does not enable destructive behavior

To these I add these from marriage counseling experience

Gracious – all sin and fall short

Faithful – Keep your 1st Love

Rev 2:4 – Ephesus

E.  Vs 8-10 – Never Ends

Every other activity and/or blessing of marriage is seasonal

From just you, to you and kids, to just you

F.  Vs 11-12 – Grows and matures

Best love is not puppy love – the sweetest

Best love is not early years – hopeful and ambitious

Best love is matured love – proven through difficulty, yields best fruit

G.  Vs 13 – The greatest attribute of relationship

If it ends … The relationship dies

=> back to earlier affirmation

To cultivate and nourish

through the discipline of completing

the 5 Tasks of Marriage everyday

Make more daily deposits into your love bank, than withdrawals

III.  Closing Summary

Love is not

a warm fuzzy feeling or emotion

sweaty palms and body heat

Love is a covenant commitment to a relationship

which takes time, energy, focus, work

Seeding, weeding, and feeding

which requires

Cultivation if there is to be a harvest

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Your Best Love, 4

Genesis 2:15, 18-25

Preaching Notes

.

I.  God’s Purpose for The Man’s Life

To glorify God and to enjoy Him for ever

To work the garden and to thrive in it

To not be alone – this led to the formation of The Helper, The Woman

.

II.  The Purpose of Marriage

Marriage is a union between one man and one woman, designed of God to last so long as they both shall live.  Marriage is designed for the mutual help of husband and wife; for the safeguarding, undergirding, and development of their moral and spiritual character; for the propagation of children and the rearing of them in the discipline and instruction of the Lord. (2) 

.

III.  The Five Tasks of Marriage

1st Task – Be a Help Mate

God said, “It’s not good for the Man to be alone; I’ll make him a helper, a companion.” Genesis 2:18 (3)

2nd Task – Be a Soul Mate

“Finally! Bone of my bone, flesh of my flesh! Name her Woman for she was made from Man.” Genesis 2:23 (4)

An Emotional Soul Mate

Jacob and Rachel – Genesis 29

Vs 11 – Jacob kissed Rachel and wept aloud

Vs 12 – Rachel ran and told her father

Vs 20 – Jacob served Laban 7 years, 

But they seemed to him but a few days because he loved her 

Vs 30 – Jacob loved Rachel more than … anyone

A Spiritual Soul Mate

So that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish.  Ephesians 5:27  (5)

Ruth and Boaz – Boaz her redeemer

Vs 13 – So Boaz took Ruth as his wife …

Vs 14 – Blessed be the Lord, who has not left you without a redeemer …

  Vs 15 – He shall be a restorer and nourisher of you life …

3rd Task – Be a Team Mate

Therefore a man leaves his father and mother and embraces his wife. They become one flesh. Genesis 2:24 (6)

No I or me in team

As if siamese twins

Complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind.  Philippians 2:2 (7)

4th Task – Be a Mating Mate

The two of them, the Man and his Wife, were naked, but they felt no shame. Genesis 2:25 (8)

One implication of Genesis 3:16 is that

The Man and Woman bringing children into the world

This is a marriage task

not a male and female task

Make life, give life, mold life

5th Task – Be a Life Mate

Jesus said, “Have you not read that He who created them from the beginning made them male and female, said, ‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’?  So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate.”  Matthew 19:4–6 (9)

Recognition that marriage is God’s creation

Again, do not be unequally yoked

Lyrics from When I Say I Do

There must be a God, I believe its true. 

Cause I can see His love, when I look at you. 

And he must have a plan for this crazy life. 

Because He brought you here and placed you by my side. (10)

+ + +

  1. Eugene H. Peterson, The Message : The Bible in Contemporary Language (Colorado Springs, Colo.: NavPress, 2002), Genesis 2:15, 18–25.
  2. The Westminster Confession, Chapter 24, sections 1 and 2.
  3. Eugene H. Peterson, The Message : The Bible in Contemporary Language (Colorado Springs, Colo.: NavPress, 2002), Genesis 2:18.
  4. Eugene H. Peterson, The Message : The Bible in Contemporary Language (Colorado Springs, Colo.: NavPress, 2002), Genesis 2:23.
  5. The Holy Bible: English Standard Version (Wheaton: Standard Bible Society, 2001), Ephesians 5:27.
  6. Eugene H. Peterson, The Message : The Bible in Contemporary Language (Colorado Springs, Colo.: NavPress, 2002), Genesis 2:24.
  7. The Holy Bible: English Standard Version (Wheaton: Standard Bible Society, 2001), Philippians 2:2.
  8. Eugene H. Peterson, The Message : The Bible in Contemporary Language (Colorado Springs, Colo.: NavPress, 2002), Genesis 2:25.
  9. The Holy Bible: English Standard Version (Wheaton: Standard Bible Society, 2001), Matthew 19:4–6.
  10. http://www.sing365.com/music/lyric.nsf/When-I-say-I-do-lyrics-Matthew-West/A5F4D556C70043FA4825756000243A49.
 

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The cross is desecrated

by the feet of forgetfulness. (1)

In the weeks after the explosion of the space shuttle Challenger and the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001, church pews were filled with worshippers.  Some came to mourn, some came for hope, many came for good news.

Yet it did not take long for the crowds to dissipate.  I do not know a single pastor who was surprised by this quick reversal in worship attendance.  We are use to it.

Christians rush to worship for Christmas, for Easter, for baptism, for confirmation, for marriage, and for death.  Each time they come longing for the Good News of the Gospel, which is secured for us in the cross.

With equal speed they rush home, back to the world, and fail to return to the cross until the next crisis or holy-i-day.

I wonder how frequently God must sigh at our forgetfulness of His grace and His heart’s desire that we gather around the cross for worship.

Our stampede towards the cross and our ensuing absence from worship is a desecration of the cross and all of the grace, mercy, and hope it brings. 

David said:

“I was glad when they said to me, let us go up to the house of the Lord!” (2)

Jesus said,

“Take up your cross and follow me!” (3)

Lord forgive me when I trust your grace, ignore your presence, and flee from your cross.

+ + +

  1. Charles H. Spurgeon, Morning and Evening : Daily Readings, Complete and unabridged; New modern edition. (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers, 2006).
  2. Psalm 122:1
  3. Matthew 16:24

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